In the pantheon of popular Mexican dishes, the tostada gets short shrift. The open-faced taco has even been shoved off the menu at Taco Bell in favor of chalupas, gorditas and double-wrapped crunchy innovations.
It seems the tostada has fallen out of favor. Too bad, because it's a versatile way to serve a variety of toppings, not all of them originally found stuffed in a taco shell. Chicken, beef, pork, beans and even duck, feta, shrimp and grilled vegetables can find a home on a 6-inch tortilla.
Consider serving tostadas for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Prepare ingredients for a few different kinds and let your guests pile on what they like. Tostadas are friendly accompaniments for a tequila tasting, especially if you use smaller tortillas. Eat between sips and help keep the effects of the liquor to a minimum. (And have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages at the ready.)
Meal-size tostadas may need a knife and fork, or at least a lot of napkins and a willingness to use your hands. That said, they can almost be buffet food if not overloaded with toppings.
"Tostada" is a form of the word "toast" in Spanish. In Spain, it is used to describe an actual piece of toast. Food historians have said tostadas were devised as a way to use slightly stale tortillas. Baking or frying them for the tostada base gives them a new life. Clever.
Use either flour or corn tortillas, depending on your tastes. When frying, flour tortillas puff more than corn. Use a spoon to push down bubbles after you remove tortillas from a skillet. Drain on a paper towel to blot excess oil.
To save calories and fat, bake tortillas instead. Brush both sides lightly with vegetable oil and bake at 350 for about 5 minutes, flipping halfway.
Besides the recipes included here, consider these toppings for your tostadas:
The flat taco: Spicy ground beef, shredded cheese, diced tomato and onion, chopped lettuce, avocado chunks, salsa, sour cream.
Greek-style: Melt feta cheese on the tortilla and pile with shredded rotisserie chicken, kalamata olives, chopped tomato, red onion, cucumber and tzatziki sauce or Greek yogurt and lemon juice.
Breakfast Tostada: Scrambled eggs with chorizo, shredded cheese, sliced scallions and sour cream.
Shellfish Crunch: Crab, avocado, fresh cilantro and a drizzle of sour cream mixed with lime juice and a few shakes of cumin.
Veggie platters: Grilled vegetables brushed with olive oil (zucchini, mushrooms, scallions, peppers) with feta or goat cheese. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Go green: Guacamole and salsa. Enough said.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8586. Follow her on Twitter: @keelerstircrazy.
Shrimp and Zucchini Tostadas
4 burrito-size flour tortillas (6-inch)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place tortillas on two large baking sheets. Brush with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and tortillas are crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add garlic and zucchini; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini is crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Spoon shrimp mixture over tortillas and top with sour cream and scallions.
Source: Everyday Food, May
Smoky Refried Bean Tostadas
7 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil; more if needed
8 (5- to 6-inch) corn tortillas
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
2 tablespoons chipotle (smoked) Tabasco sauce
1 cup crumbled feta (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup finely diced fresh tomato
1/2 cup thinly sliced red radishes
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a small (8-inch) nonstick omelet pan over medium-high heat until the oil bubbles when the edge of a tortilla is dipped into it. Using tongs and working with one tortilla at a time, fry the tortillas until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds per side. As each one finishes frying, briefly dangle the tortilla above the pan to allow excess oil to drip into the pan, then transfer the tortilla to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each tortilla with a little salt while it's still hot. As you fry, adjust the heat to keep the oil from getting too hot or cool, and if the pan goes dry, add more oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. When all the tortillas are fried, keep them warm in the oven.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and lightly browned around the edges, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Working quickly, mash the beans with the back of a fork until most but not all of them are broken apart, and simmer until the beans look creamy and spreadable and much of the water has been absorbed, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chipotle Tabasco sauce and season to taste with more salt if needed.
To serve, spread each tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the beans and top with the feta, tomato, radishes and cilantro leaves.
Source: Fine Cooking
Rotisserie Chicken Tostadas
3/4 cup salsa
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1 whole rotisserie chicken, shredded (about 3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 flour tortillas, baked or fried
1 ripe avocado, diced
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
Mexican queso blanco or Monterey Jack cheese, finely grated
Chopped fresh cilantro (to garnish)
Combine the salsa and vinegar in a bowl, stir and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the onions over medium heat until they begin to caramelize, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add salsa mixture to skillet, simmer until well reduced, add chicken, stir, heat and then cool slightly; season with salt.
Top each tortilla with some chicken mixture, then add some avocado, tomato and cheese and sprinkle with cilantro.
Makes 8 tostadas.
Source: St. Petersburg Times